College picks went 5-3 last week, thanks to the Noles epic fall from their fans' good graces. The world is catching up to Utah's spreads, so there won't by any free-bee's this week. Time to pick up the slack...
Oregon (+21) at California - Simply put, this is one of those games I wouldn't even touch if the line wasn't so big. Cal is missing some experience at WR and has always had a tough time against the Ducks. But still, the Bears are the better team and are at home. This is a risky one, no doubt, but I'm looking for both team's ground games to keep this one closer than three touchdowns. Yahoo - ESPN
Wisconsin (-6) vs Minnesota - Chris Fowler has been touting all week how this is one of the best rivalries in all of college sports and I agree. It seems like every year this game is fun to watch. I'm not crazy about the six points, but I still like the Badgers here and would consider buying it down to 3. The big story going in is the return of Erasmus James to the Wisconsin defence, but I'm looking at the Golphers three losses in their last four (all on the road, all to big ten teams) and the fact that they haven't won in Madison in 10 years. Yahoo - ESPN
Iowa St. (+4.5) vs Nebraska - ISU can take the lead in the Big 12 North with a win here at home against Nebraska. The Huskers looked okay in their 24-3 win over Mizzou last week but a good number of their opportunities came from the Tigers just playing stupid. The Cyclones have been a tricky team all season, but getting four and a half at home in a game they need is okay for me. No Preview.
Maryland (+14) at Virginia - Last week's big upset of the Noles was just as much on Tommy Bowden's playcalling as it was on the Terps defense. Still, they proved they could run with good athletes and Maryland has always finished the second half of the ACC schedule strong. At 4-4, Ralph has his team playing for bowl eligibility while Virginia maybe is ranked a little too high at 13 (and 12). Yahoo - ESPN
I've run out of time, but watch out for Vandy to pull the upset against Florida today too.
UPDATE: In honor of Maryland staying in the locker room all afternoon (7 first downs?), I'm looking at Miami coming up with a big game tonight in order to keep pace with Virginia in the ACC. Clemson has been smoked in all three of their road games this season (all versus ranked teams) and going into Miami isn't exactly easy. The peanut vendor is selling me Miami minus 16, so I'm looking to tickle that with some combo of either Hawaii at home (-3.5) or Arizona St. at home (-11.5).
UPDATE THE UPDATE: Miami bought to 13.5 (from 16), Hawaii -2.5 (from 3.5). NFL picks and news tomorrow morning, weather permitting.
I don't think Droughns is the long term answer. He leaves alot of yards on the field because he is not elusive at all...I thought in the Monday night loss to Cincy that "Q" or Bell would have given them some bigger plays...I know Droughns had alot of yards but the others would have given them even more yards and maybe a long TD run or two...Droughns is a grinder but lacks top end speed...Bell should be a perfect fit once he learns the system...
Mike Tice is saying that he won't make a decision on Randy Moss' status for Week 9 until right before kickoff. Given Tice's track record with this stuff, this means to me that Moss isn't playing and Tice just wants the possibility to remain out there so the Colts don't relax. It's the smart move, especially when one considers what is said in this article.
Brian Westbrook is changing my opinion about this week's matchup with the Steelers. On Monday, I had Pittsburgh winning at home, but now that Brian seems to beready to play, I'm holding back. At least fantasy owners are happy.
Other than their WR troubles, the Seahawks are getting a few players back this week. Both Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons are expected to play for the defense. And Fanball is reporting that Steve Hutchinson and Chris Terry will play Sunday too. They reference the Seattle Times, but I couldn't find anything about Hutchinson's status on that website. Either way, with all the 49er turmoil, the weather should be nice and the Hawks should roll.
Lots of game time decisions this week. None bigger than Corey Dillon's status.
Bill Parcells, endorser of all quarterbacks young. So much envy...
Three Seahawks have been downgraded to doubtful: Jackson, Engram, and Morris.
The Raiders DBs have been anything but a physical force during their 04 slump. Charles Woodson's hip injury is probably a big part of that. He's likely to miss Sunday's game.
I'd first like to note that one's age officially becomes an issue when men who's baseball cards you used to trade on your way home from school start becoming coaches for teams they used play for, or for teams that didn't even exist back then.
The Panthers are hopeful that Stephen Davis will be able to play this week when they face the Raiders. Davis practiced both Wednesday and Thursday.
Thomas Jones is being held out of practice and could be out for as much as three weeks. That is still undetermined, but it does look as if Anthony Thomas will get his first start of the season this week.
Tim Rattay was downgraded to questionable after feeling soreness in his throwing arm on Thursday.
With Poole and Law out for a while, the Pats will turn to Asante Samuel and Randall Gay at cornerback. But don't forget that starting safety Eugene Wilson was a college corner, and is still a very good cover guy.
I expect tough times for the Bengals if RT Willie Anderson misses any time.
Earnest Graham probably earned himself some goal-line carries after a productive preseason. With Mike Alstott out of a while, don't be surprised if the Bucs turn to him in short yardage situations.
A side note to Kevan Barlow owners: Maurice Hicks is the new backup in SF.
Both Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock are listed as probably on the Chiefs injury list, and it does raise the question of if we'll get to see Larry Johnson this week at Tampa.
It might be another week before Tatum Bell is able to get back on the field in the attempt to become the backup in Denver. Coach Shanahan said he still had some tightness in his hamstring and was limited in practice on Wednesday.
Tyrone Wheatley should get a chance to see how healthy he really is this week against a not so solid Panther run defense.
Roy Williams is still listed as questionable, and it's obvious that he's healing slowly from a ankle injury he sustained on Oct 10. This Lions' blogger thinks Roy will play this week.
With the Colts - Viking game on Monday night, I wouldn't suggest it to be a good idea to hold an active roster spot for Randy Moss, Mewelde Moore, or Onterrio Smith. Of course, given who they're playing, it's always possible that if any of the above three play, they'll contribute nicely.
Ah... November. The time of year it becomes impossibly irritating to watch Sportscenter. Not so much because of the NBA highlights, those can have some entertainment value to them. It's the side stories ala Kobe vs Shaq that make me keep CNBC on all day.
Talking receiver targets, other than discussing the obvious WR leaders, here's what stands out to me:
Bryant Johnson is part of a crowded receiving corps in Arizona. But he's still getting the ball. With the return of Anquan Boldin (who caught 4 passes on 9 attempts), Johnson still figured in a major part of the offense in Week 8. Bryant had 7 balls thrown his way for 3 catches. Larry Fitzgerald was clearly the one who lost opportunities. He didn't catch any of the 5 passes thrown his way.
Over the last three weeks, Jason Witten has hauled in 22 of the 25 passes thrown his way.
In Randy Moss' absence, Nate Burleson has gotten highest number of passes with 28 over the last three weeks. Next on the list is Jermaine Wiggins (19) and Marcus Robinson (18). Last week versus New York, Nate went 6 for 10 with a touchdown and Marcus went 4 for 8 for 91 yards. Michael Bennett, seeing his first action of the season, caught 6 of 7 passes for just 18 yards.
It's obvious that injuries are taking some punch out of the Patriots' offense. They just aren't able to spread it out 5 wide right now. Over their last three games, 27 passes have gone to David Patten (a guy who was almost cut before the season), 23 to David Givens, and 19 to Kevin Faulk. Next on the list has 9. So clearly, even though he doesn't carry the ball often, Faulk's role in the New England offense has been a large one. Kevin went 8 for 8 in the loss to the Steelers.
Justin McCareins is getting more involved. The Jets didn't have to throw much on Monday Night, so McCareins' 3 for 5 doesn't look like a lot. But he still led the team in targets, receptions, and yards. Over the last three games, his 20 targets is almost double what the next closest receiver has (Chrebet 12).
Eric Parker wasn't hindered by the arrival of Keenan McCardell and Bobby Shaw on Sunday. Parker led the team in targets (7), catches (6), and yards (91) versus the Raiders. This guy has come a long was considering he was not even drafted. 16 catches in his last three games isn't bad.
Brandon Lloyd continues to get the majority of the 49er passes thrown his way. Sunday night he turned 11 Ken Dorsey throws into 5 catches for 63 yards.
In other news...
I wonder how Brett Favre will look back upon these twilight years of his career. Here it is wondered if his throwing and will ever be completely healed.
I watched a movie on tv last night. That's how bad it is. Normally, at this time of year, when there's nothing good on television, there's at least someone playing hockey. So late Tuesday night, with the election growing long and redundant, it would have been a good time to flip over to a Sharks/Canucks games. No such luck. Here's why:
Whether or not we miss half a season or three-quarters of a season, or don't have a season at all - that is not the issue from our standpoint. We need a deal that is the right deal to address the problems and let us go forward. When we make that deal, when it is all signed up, we initial it, dot the i's, cross the t's, we both ratify it. Then if there is time for the semblence of a season, we'll have one." If not, we'll see you next season or whenever.
The players' side:
I'm hopeful that there will be a season, but I have to tell you, there's a good chance there won't be.
Boltsmag has a wrap up of what Mike Commodore said to a Calgary radio station.
UPDATE: ESPN has the injury at 4-6 weeks. Still, David Gerrard is a quality quarterback. Teams have been trying to get him out of Jacksonville for a couple of seasons. He's played very well in the preseason games I've caught him in and Garrard also had some nice games when Brunnell missed time pre-Byron.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Now Leftwich may choose to play through the pain?
Thomas Jones' MRI revealed only a sprained toe, but nothing significant. Status for Sunday not yet known.
Darrell Jackson was on crutches yesterday, but hopes to play Sunday. So does Jerry Rice. There's no word yet of Koren, but the Hawks WRs are dropping out of the sky pretty fast.
Remember Onterrio Smith is eligible to return this week.
The Vikings are preparing their offense for a Moss free week. Considering the kind of dis-information the regularly comes from Viking camp, I wouldn't be surprised if they were doing this to catch the Colts off-guard if Moss does play. Still, I don't see him suiting up for this game. If he did, it would be rushed just for the Monday Night spotlight. It's a non-conference game.
He's got to be one of the stories of the year. Moore promised his single mom in Baton Rouge, La., that he'd get his degree from Tulane on time, in four years. And while at Tulane, the kid fell in love with numbers. So much so he decided to double-major in accounting and finance. The stress of a football career left him eight classes short of finishing work on both degrees entering his final semester of school last January. He was an NFL prospect and needed to work out in preparation for the all-important scouting combine. So he signed up for all eight classes and did something no top pro prospect ever does: He put his pre-draft workouts on the back burner. Eight classes. Do you have any idea what it's like to take, and pass, eight classes at a good school like Tulane? "While the other guys were getting ready for the combine are working out, doing speed training and eating right,'' Moore told me last week, "I'm staying up all night studying, fitting in workouts here and there. I've got to graduate.
An excellent runner and receiver at Tulane, Moore ran a pedestrian 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. "When he ran that 4.6,'' coach Mike Tice said, "his stock really dropped. But we still wanted him badly. He's the type of versatile back I love.'' They picked him in the fourth round. Bennett got hurt late in the preseason, and Smith got his substance-abuse suspension imposed in early October. Along with an injury to Williams, a spot opened for Moore.
That spot could close when Onterrio Smith returns this week, but look for Moore to still have a big role in the receiving game.
A couple of injuries (John Lynch and Dan Morgan) on the Broncos and Panthers defenses, respectively, that will most likely have a negative affect on both teams for the next few weeks (as if the Panthers needed more injuries).
If Westbrook is forced to sit out again this week, don't expect the Eagles to still be favored by 1 point going into Pittsburgh. I'd jump on that line now just in case it starts tipping too far the other way.
To beat the Eagles, the Steelers will look to do the same kinds of things they did to end New England's streak. There was no secret weapon displayed yesterday, Pittsburgh just showed what they could do when they execute properly. That's why they have one of the best red-zone percentages in the NFL, why they're 6-1, and why people are calling them the best team in the AFC now.
Mike Tice in his press conference today indicated that it's going to take another 3-4 weeks for Moss to be full strength. After being pulled from Sunday's game, many are questioning why the Vikes are tempting fate. Tice seemed to be pondering that too. So even though their next game is on Monday night, and against a team that Moss could probably crawl for 85 yards and two scores (the Colts), I don't see #84 playing in week 9.
People seem reluctant to pick the Jets tonight after the Bengals surprised everyone last week on Monday night. Why?
I haven't had a chance to watch the Falcons game yet, but I'm looking forward to it. The highlights showed that the dream isn't dead just yet. All this team has to do to make the playoffs is beat Tampa twice because neither the Saints nor the Panthers have anything left this season.
ESPN is reporting that Ty Law may be out until December.
Quick, unlinked, injury roundup:
Brett Favre will use the Week 9 bye week to rest a couple of injuries to his hands and wrists.
Steve McNair also has a bye this week, and will sit out of practice all week.
Tim Rattay was a gametime decision and ended up being the 3rd QB. He's has been one of the league's best, statistically, when he has played.
Thomas Jones is being evaluated. He sprained his foot and was forced to leave the game on Sunday night.
Julius Jones probably won't be back until after thanksgiving.
Fred Taylor entered yesterday's game with a sore quad and left with a hip pointer. He didn't play in the second half and has a bye week to help recover.
Mewelde Moore injured his left ankle, but probably didn't see much time just as much because he wasn't very effective and had a costly fumble on a poor swing route.
Corey Dillon obviously didn't play. Kevin Faulk didn't get many chances, and isn't really counted on to run a lot in New England anyway. Keep your eye on Cedric Cobbs as he comes back from an injury.
Mike Cloud left yesterday's game with a mysterious head injury. His status has not yet been determined.
Fanball doesn't think Brian Westbrook will play this week either.
LT had 19 carries and looked, well, injured but still somewhat effective. Jesse Chatman had another nice day averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Chris Brown has turf toe and, even though I didn't think he'd play, ran for 147 yards on 32 carries. Apparently, he just played though the pain. He was in a walking boot afterwards.
Anquan Boldin made his return by catching 4 passes for 50 yards.
Cincinnati teased me with Peter Warrick all week, but ended up deactivating him. He's been hurt all season.
Roy Williams was also a tease who didn't suit up.
In addition to not having Randy Moss, the Vikings lost Marcus Robinson to a injured left foot.
Poor Deion Branch. This was to be a great season for him.
Todd Pinkston was scheduled for a MRI today on his sprained knee.
Brandon Lloyd aggravated his hip pointer on Sunday and is uncertain for Week 9.
Bobby Engram sat out yesterday and the Seahawks also lost Alex Bannister for the season, and Jerry Rice for the game.
Todd Heap didn't play again and Coach Bilick will wait until late in the week again to determine if he's ready to play.
Atlanta isn't really talking about a time-table for DT Rod Coleman's return. Ever since he put himself out after an embarrassing car accident, the Falcons defense has had a lot of trouble stopping opposing teams.
The Bears didn't have Ogunleye lsat night and also missed Ulracher for some time.
Dan Klecko was put on the IR.
Washington missed both Lavar Arrington and Michael Barrow in their loss to the Packers.
Troy Vincent was inactive for the Bills and I don't remember seeing his replacement Terrence McGee in on too many plays (other than that long kickoff return).
Don't worry about names, just know that the Colts are pretty much starting third stringers in their secondary (which didn't have the best first stringers in the first place).
Charles Woodson has a hip pointer problem and hasn't looked real quick in the last few weeks.
Green Bay at Washington (+1.5) - The Skins are a home dog coming out of their bye week and I think they should be able to do some things early. I was going to include Washington into my picks, but after reading this, I'm going to just hope that the Packers have enough defense to pull it out.
If this kind of thing is of interest to you, check out the small table on the right side of Bill Simmons' picks. He's got a little 'By the numbers' chart that reveals a theme that continues to demand our attention. Home underdogs are 11-12-1 against the spread in 04, but straight up, underdogs in general have won 75% of their games this season. Here are your home dogs this week:
That there are only three this week tells me that maybe the linesmakers are starting to feel the heat from the home dog too. Below are a few home favorites who probably shouldn't be favored by as much as they are:
Tennessee (-3) vs Cincinnati
Dallas (-3) vs Detroit
San Diego (-6) vs Oakland
Chicago (-2) vs San Francisco
Denver (-7) vs Atlanta
It looks to me that Vegas is taking the side of the home team this week. To me, that seems reactionary because I thought this told us that home field advantage has disappeared this season? Shouldn't they be taking the underdog instead? But now I'm just confused as to how that is even possible. So I think the point to be taken from all this is to start taking the home dog who's being given a lot of points. But take them to win. Of course, there are no games like that this week.
New York Giants at Minnesota (-6.5) - Last season, the Vikes started 6-0. They were on their way to a division title when they invited the 3-3 Giants to play on their own field. The result was a 17-29 loss for Minnesota that perhaps began the spiral that doomed their 2003 season. After that game, the Vikings finished 3-6 and was pushed out of the playoffs by Green Bay.
Okay, on to the show.
When looking for a specific movie scene on a DVD, a wise man once said to me, "It's either before this part, or after it."
Dallas (-3) vs Detroit - Just on two stats alone, I'm picking this game for the Cowboys. Detroit is 3-0 on the road and Dallas is 1-2 at home. Don't those two stas need to even out? There probably isn't going to be much success for either team on the ground today. But I think that Parcells will be more willing to stay with the run than Mariucci will be. Harrington has had this reputation of being poor against constant blitzing. This will be a good test to see how much better he's gotten. Dallas has lost its last three games, and ultimately this is just one of those picks that is solely based on trends, instead of football science. Yahoo - ESPN
Houston (-1.5) vs Jacksonville - I was thinking about taking the over (42.5) in this game, but then I thought I was just going to stick with the Texans. If Jacksonville is looking ahead to their bye week, or is still looking back to their big win at Indy, they're gonna get beat up in Houston. But I don't think either of those things are going to happen. Fred Taylor and Dominick Davis both have injuries that could force them to leave the game. This really should be an entertaining contest and while I still like the Texans to win, the over seems more likely. Yahoo - ESPN
Cincinnati (+3) at Tennessee - Obviously, the status of both Chris Brown and Steve McNair weigh heavily on who I'm picking here. But just based on recent news, I don't see either being anywhere close to effective in this game. With all the man coverage that the Titans play, their run defense suffers for it and both Rudi and Chad Johnson should have excellent days. I'm not too sure why this line is where it is. The Titans used to be almost unbeatable at home, but they're 0-3 in Nashville this season. Can they really lose four in a row at home? If Billy Volek is handing off to Antowain Smith in the third quarter I'd say yes, they can. Yahoo - ESPN
Pittsburgh (+3) vs New England - I think the time has come, well, for at least a push. The Pats are giving up an average of 110.8 yards a game on the ground and that is obviously where Pittsburgh is going to have to go to win today. But more importantly, the Steelers ability to score touchdowns in the red zone (14 out of 17 visits) is the reason I think they're going to end the streak. Pittsburgh has 9 red zone rushing TDs, second only to Kansas City, and that tells me this is a physical team that can beat anyone at the line of scrimmage. They only thing that worries me is Tom Brady picking on the Steeler safeties. The Pats still have a lot of injuries at WR, so I'm going to just hope that Pittsburgh has enough to keep plays in front of them. Corey Dillon missing time with his injury would surely help that. Yahoo - ESPN